Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Experiment 3. What does science taste like?

Last time the littlies and I did "science tricks" together we noticed the gas (carbon dioxide) given off when you mix an acid (vinegar) and a base (calcium carbonate/sodium bicarbonate). The kids were dead keen to do the baking soda/vinegar trick again. "Sure" I said "But shall we see what this reaction tastes like? We could make bubbles on our tongues!"

"...Okay..." they replied, in timid voices. I trotted off to the cupboard and brought back the ingredients for sherbet.

Mix together: 1/2 t citric acid, 1/4 t baking soda, and 3 t icing sugar. Grind them up in a mortar and pestle if you have one. Make sure they stay nice and dry.

Now put a little in a glass and get a straw. Suck a little up onto your tongue and feel it fizzing as the acid (citric acid) reacts with the base (baking soda). This is the taste of a real-life chemical reaction on your tongue. The acid will taste sour and tangy, and the sugar will be nice and sweet. There's also a rather scintillating cold feeling- that's because this reaction is endothermic (it absorbs heat to break the chemical bonds).

Baking soda, citric acid, icing sugar: A few cents. Sylvie's expression: Priceless.

Harry thought that adding water might make it into a fizzy drink. We tried it out. It fizzed alright, but the bubbles were gone by the time he drank it. (This showed him that the reaction is instantaneous).

Sylvie thought that the flavour could be improved. We talked about other things we could put in to make a different flavour: powdered fruit drink, jelly crystals, different types of sugar. Whatever flavour you choose, it must be dry, because the reaction happens as soon as you add water.

My old life is creeping into my craft blog, and it feels strange. I think I might have to call these posts "science craft" to avoid freaking myself out.
Posted by Picasa


  1. I expect your old life never went away it just sat there until you were ready for it again. The party is tommorrow and the pass the parcel makes us look ready...even if we're not. Bill has been making an elaborate Pinata that is so good they are going to have to hit it with a feather because he doesn't want it broken too soon. That sherbet must be the stuff we used to suck up licorice straws. We can give that a go.

  2. What a great experiment! As for your old life creeping back in, it just goes to show that nothing is ever wasted.

    I love Sylvie's gorgeous polka dotted smocked top. It's giving me ideas, although clearly there is also a time to graciously move on.

  3. Hi Jenny

    I don't know if you remember me - I'm a friend of Nicola Browns and now live in Nelson. I love your blog. It's hilarious. I have a budding scientist in Isla (5 and a half) and have rediscovered a love of science myself through her. Please keep up the experiments - very inspirational.

  4. Love the photo's Miss Smith.

    Sylvie and Harry make very photogenic (and crafty?) scientists.

  5. I'm thinking that when you make your science for kids book you could use photos like the ones on your blog to illustrate. I think that would have great appeal to both kids and adults.

  6. Love Sylvie's expression! And love the term "science craft". Embrace it!

  7. Sylvie's haircut is gorgeous!

  8. I agree with Marg about the book and with Miriam about the old life sitting patiently and with Mary Nanna that nothing is ever wasted. Real life thriftiness, that's what that is.

    That's a smockin' cute dress and brings out her blue eyes.

  9. Your children are beautiful! And your experiments are fascinating....

    I am enjoying these new children's science projects. Yay!